Harm Reduction and Substance Abuse

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 413
  • Published : August 27, 2010
Open Document
Text Preview
Running head: RESEARCH PAPER

Harm Reduction and Substance Abuse
Liberty University

Abstract
This paper examines how harm reduction is a theoretical model which has been proposed to address the harm which is caused by the behavior of an individual, not only to themselves, but also to the wider community. In particular, it looks at how the model has also provided a potential framework for dealing with substance abuse, and has been adopted in practice in many countries around the world. This paper examines the principals behind the theoretical model, and how these can be applied to successfully treat substance abusers. Specific applications of the model are also examined to determine how successful certain strategies have been in reducing harm, and how any limitations could be overcome to improve future implementations. Harm Reduction and Substance Abuse

Introduction
About 200 million people or 5% of the global population are estimated to have used drugs at least once in 2006. Around 2.7% of the global population use drugs at least once a month, and around 0.6% are recognized as drug addicted or problem drug users. It is estimated that currently around 13 million persons worldwide inject drugs and that there is an increasing trend in the numbers of persons abusing cannabis and amphetamine-type stimulants (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2006). It can be seen from these figures substance abuse is an important issue which needs addressing. However alongside the concerns relating to the number of illegal drug users around the world are a barrage of other concerns. There are many problems which drug addiction causes to both individuals and societies. This includes disease transmission, most notably HIV/AIDS. The connection between the two is often a direct result of sharing unsterilized injecting equipment among injection drug users. It can also be indirectly a result of drug use, where injecting drug users transmit the disease through sexual intercourse to non users (Schumacher, Fischer and Qian, 2007). It is estimated that injecting drug users have contributed to more than 10% of HIV infections worldwide (UNODC, 2006). The nature by which these types of infections can be spread from drug users indirectly to non-users signify one of the many dangers which can arise in a community as a result of those choosing to use illegal drugs. Therefore it could be argued that the prevention of such problems is equally, if not more important than addressing the number of people who currently use illegal drugs.

Harm reduction is a theoretical model which has been proposed to address the harm which is caused by the behavior of an individual, not only to themselves, but also to the wider community. This model has been developed into many practical applications, ranging from tobacco and alcohol addiction to weight loss. The model has also provided a potential framework for dealing with substance abuse, and has been adopted in practice in many countries around the world. This paper will examine the principals behind the theoretical model, and how these can be applied to successfully treat substance abusers. Specific applications of the model will be examined to determine how successful certain strategies have been in reducing harm, and how any limitations could be overcome to improve future implementations. Theoretical model

There is some disagreement in the literature with regards to the actual components of harm reduction theory. There is no agreement as to the definition of harm reduction as many other terms such as risk minimization and risk reduction are used interchangeably with harm reduction. There is also disagreement between advocates of harm reduction as to whether imprisonment of drug users for possession is harm reduction, or even whether laws prohibiting drug possession contribute to harm reduction. However there are certain principles to the theory of harm reduction which are...
tracking img